During the Cold War, increasing tensions between NATO forces and the Soviet Union led to rapid increases in armaments on both sides. During 1951 and 1952, the US was testing atomic bomb not only for increasing yields, but also to determine the effects they have on various military forces. During late October and early November of 1951, Operation Buster-Jangle was undertaken in Nevada to determine the effects of relatively low-yield atomic weapons on soldiers - approximately 6,500 American soldiers were involved in these tests. By November of 1952, the US was upgrading its atomic weapon arsenal in response to the increasing Soviet nuclear arsenal.
On Nov. 1, the US tested the first large hydrogen bomb on Elugelab Island in the Pacific Ocean. The test had a yield of over 10 megatons (over 500 times the yield of the Nagasaki bomb), and an underwater crater over 6,000 feet deep. Almost 10 years later, on October 30, 1961 after the Soviet Premier Khruschshev's promise to show the US something that it had never seen before, the USSR detonated the Tsar Bomba. This weapon was the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated, and while was originally planned to have a yield of 100 megatons, this was reduced to 50 megatons to prevent excessive fallout.
This testing of increasingly powerful nuclear bombs helped to demonstrate the concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD), which was probably a more powerful deterrent to World War III than any diplomacy.
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